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Never Let Me Go Movie Review

By Kathy Curtis

For some inexplicable reason I always end up reading sad books on holidays, which is how I came to be sobbing my eyes out by the side of a pool in a Fijian resort a few years ago as I finished reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It became one of my favourite books and when I heard it was being made into a film I was filled with equal parts of thrilled anticipation and total horror. Anyone who holds a book near to their heart knows this feeling. Film adaptations rarely give us what we want: a visual interpretation of the images and emotions we create within ourselves as we read. Film directors give us their own vision, and in the past I have rarely found the end result totally satisfying and most often very disappointing.

Which is why I was literally trembling with trepidation as the lights dimmed and Mark Romanek’s screen version of Never Let Me Go began. When it ended I wasn’t sure how I would be able to write this review without gushing. Gushing is not professional and it’s not objective but it’s how I felt. I wanted to stop people walking past me in the street and say “please, you must see Never Let Me Go”. But now I must regain some composure and write why you must see it.



For those who don’t know the book it’s the story of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy growing up in Hailsham, an apparently ordinary boarding school in the idyllic English countryside. But there is more to Hailsham than meets the eye and we soon realise they are being prepared for their true purpose – a purpose that is revealed to them by Miss Lucy in a beautifully memorable scene.


While the setting is a timeless England in the 1980’s the social setting is a futuristic world where organ transplants have reached a new level. We are told life expectancy has reached over 100 but at what cost?



Carey Mulligan is perfect as Kathy H, restrained and contained, the smallest facial changes revealing the emotional turmoil underneath. Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are wonderful as Ruth and Tommy, each bringing just the right qualities to these wretched characters.



Visually the English countryside is stunning, providing just the right counterbalance to the stark reality of what the horrific future holds for these young people. Each scene is beautiful, with the most elegant attention to detail.



Above all else Never Let Me Go is a love story but it is also a story of social engineering, betrayal, hope and acceptance. It is a subversive emotional Trojan horse which gently gets under your skin and leaves you examining and dwelling on the implications long after the final credits.


What’s your favourite movie based on a book?